Dasha Kelly Hamilton is 1st Black woman to be WI's poet laureate

Dasha Kelly Hamilton has a way with words. 

In early 2021, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission named Dasha Kelly Hamilton Wisconsin's new poet laureate. 

"I describe it to my munchkins and my uncles that I am the ambassador for poetry," Kelly Hamilton said. "I’m going to continue using poetry, as I have for the last 20 years, as a tool to get people around the table together."

Hamilton is the first Black woman to serve as Wisconsin's poet laureate. 

"I appreciate being able to bring conversations to the forefront that maybe others wouldn’t have the need to, have an interest to," she said. 

Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Kelly Hamilton has loved language since she was a little girl but did not fall in love with poetry until her late 20s.

"I was absolutely that high school student wondering why are we doing it again? This poetry unit," Kelly Hamilton said. 

Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Kelly Hamilton, who is "snow birding" in Alaska, works with students and seasoned writers. She shares the importance of patience. 

"It is a process to get from that first moment that explodes from your chest, that you want to capture, it’s a great idea. Just write it out so you don’t lose it. Then go back and tinker with it," Kelly Hamilton said. 

Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Dasha Kelly Hamilton is committed to using her words to create change and confront topics like race, class and equity. 

"Poems give us a chance to have those conversations in a fresh way," she said. 

As poet laureate, Kelly Hamilton will share and encourage poetry across the state. She is also working to bring poetry to people in Wisconsin prisons. 

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